There’s been a lot of great discussion of arts entrepreneurship on NewMusicBox recently. There’s a lot of good stuff there, and also plenty I disagree with. The emphasis on arts entrepreneurship in education in particular has come under some fire.

Teaching young artists this stuff is about helping them to survive in an unfair world. It’s not about promoting entrepreneurship as a crucial part of an artistic life. It’s about helping students fight back against the culture that says we don’t matter.

96% of Americans care about art, and only 27% care about artists. That’s 69% of Americans who care about art and don’t care about where it comes from (there’s a study). We’ve got to do something about that as a society, and as individual artists. It’s not fair to ask artists to fix this on our own, but realistically this isn’t going to get better without us.

Getting serious about your own audience, and about getting them to support you financially, is how you fight back. Every time someone finds an artist they love on Kickstarter and backs the album for $100 instead of $25, and every time someone backs a Patreon campaign and commits to buying everything an artist makes, the culture gets better. Change happens inch by inch.

We have to teach people to support artists. Really we have to show people why they already want to support the artists who make the art they love. That’s how we get that 69% down to zero.

So build your audience, make art, and expect fair pay for your work. It’s not just how you support yourself, it’s how you change the culture. Arts entrepreneurship is a resistance movement.

And if you think I’m onto something, go read Jesse Von Doom’s latest. You’ll want to go start a revolution, which is honestly what we need.


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